Healthy, Peaceful Death Does Not Exist – Article by Advocate of Negligible Senescence

Healthy, Peaceful Death Does Not Exist – Article by Advocate of Negligible Senescence

The New Renaissance Hat
Advocate of Negligible Senescence
May 26, 2014

Most people want to die of in their sleep, in peace, of old age, without pain and surrounded by their family and loved ones after achieving success and after having done something worthwhile.But the facts suggest, that such a peaceful end is granted to very few people, while most people have to endure different disabilities and diseases associated with aging and terrible pain and decreased function, performance, and the lack of joy coming with it.The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) project originated in 1990 in a collaboration between the World Health Organization, Harvard School of Public Health, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), and the World Bank.

The focus of the Global Burden of Disease Study is to provide a detailed statistical analysis of the impact of diseases leading to death and disability across various regions around the world. The purpose of the study is to reveal gaps between current and ideal health circumstances and develop strategies to reduce this gap.

The 2010 Global Burden of Disease study reveals a significant shift in the nature of disease worldwide. There has been a significant increase in chronic disease worldwide. This is due to demographics of aging, and the subsequent increase of age-related disease.

Worldwide, the contribution of different risk factors to disease burden has changed substantially, with a shift away from risks for communicable diseases in children towards those for non-communicable diseases in adults.

As life expectancy has increased, the number of healthy years lost to disability has also increased in most countries, consistent with the expansion of morbidity hypothesis, which has implications for health planning and health-care expenditure.One of the key findings reveals that we are living longer, but under an increased burden of chronic disease that impairs our quality of life.These results are distressing: men can expect to spend an average of 9.2 years and women 11.5 years with some form of a chronic disability. In other words, during the last decade of lives, on average, our quality of life might become significantly impaired by the presence of a chronic disease.

The paradox, then – the fact that people want to be actively saved if they are near or at the moment of death, but also want to die peacefully – seems to be rooted in a pretty profound medical illiteracy.

Healthy people don’t die in their sleep, “peacefully” or otherwise. You don’t hear about too many 25-year-olds dying suddenly of heart attacks or strokes during their nightly slumber.

When people in their twenties die, it’s usually considered tragic. When babies are found dead in their cribs, it’s referred to by a name (“Sudden Infant Death Syndrome”). But when elderly people die, in bed or otherwise, there tends to be a curious tone of, “Well, at least they went peacefully.”

The increase in life expectancy and the resulting growth of the elderly population are also thought to be driving up the number of elderly people with disabilities.

Typically in the case of dying in your sleep due to old age, an autopsy can determine exactly what went wrong, or what stopped working. For example, your heart could simply get tired and stop beating, because it’s been working hard for the past eighty or ninety years.

The phrase “natural causes” or dying “of old age” is a very strange one really. Ultimately what it means is that someone who dies of natural causes, dies of aging in a way that has not been given an additional name; so really it’s just a matter of terminology. The difference is between dying of “natural causes” and dying of some other specifically named thing that doesn’t really often affect young adults.

Searching for a cure for age-related ill health, a problem that kills more people than all other causes combined, is a moral imperative. The Advocate for Negligible Senescence publishes articles that discuss and educate the public about research to combat senescence. See the Advocate’s Facebook page.  

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